Frequently Asked Questions of the ICN International NP/APN Network

What is a nurse practitioner/advanced practice nurse (NP/APN)?

The following definition reflects the official position of ICN as representative of current and potential roles worldwide:

A Nurse Practitioner/Advanced Practice Nurse is a registered nurse who has acquired the expert knowledge base, complex decision-making skills and clinical competencies for expanded practice, the characteristics of which are shaped by the context and/or country in which s/he is credentialed to practice. A master's level degree is recommended for entry level.

Visit the ICN NP/APNN web site at www.icn-apnetwork.org for characteristics of NP/APN practice under practice issues.

What are the educational requirements for NP/APNs?

The following are ICN recommendations for NP/APN educational preparation.

  • Educational preparation at advanced level
  • Formal recognition of the educational programmes preparing nurse practitioners/advanced nursing practice roles accredited or approved
  • Formal system of licensure, registration, certification and credentialing

The emerging and evolving nature of the roles is context sensitive and thus the educational programmes are diverse. Education ranges from continued professional education courses, to BScN NP diploma programmes to NP/APN specific curriculum at the MSN level.

What can nurse practitioners and advanced practice nurses do?

NP/APN settings vary in purpose, type, acuity and sponsorship. Practice sites include hospitals, community and ambulatory settings, mobile clinics, work sites, and schools. Examples of possible domains of clinical activity include:

Condition specific: breast care, stoma care, diabetic care, cardiology, oncology

Client group specific: children, elderly, refugees, immigrants, homeless, acutely ill, common concerns, chronic disease management

Area specific: Intensive care, Coronary care, Neonatal Unit, Nurse Managed Services, Orthopedic unit, emergency clinics, minor injuries

Public health: schools, mobile clinics, home visiting, community clinics

When APNs work in out of hospital sites, practice is commonly associated with Primary Health Care, home or community care. Expansion of APN roles in institutions or hospitals tends to be more directly under the supervision of physicians and directly related to a specialty. APN services can include care at the secondary and tertiary level.

How many countries have NP/APN roles?

It has been estimated that approximately 70 countries have established NP/APN roles or are exploring the possibility of introducing these roles.

If you want to present a perspective paper to be posted on the web site describing what is developing in your country or region contact Anna Green at anna.green@wh.org.au.

The ICN NP/APNN health policy subgroup is in the process of developing scope and standards for international NP/APN practice. These should be available by June 2004. For current national organizations, resources and credentialing information visit the network web site www.icn-apnetwork.org under communication.

What is the difference between advanced practice nursing and advanced techniques or tasks?

What characterizes APN practice is knowledge and expertise, clinical judgment, skilled and self-initiated care, and scholarly inquiry not job descriptions, title or setting. Advanced nursing practice promotes the development of emphasis on all aspects of advanced practice not simply the promotion of advanced nursing tasks.

The development of advanced expertise in a single technique or task (i.e. neonatal resuscitation) does not constitute advanced practice nursing.

What is the ICN NP/APN Network?

In response to identified global development of NP/APN roles interested professionals and professional organizations in collaboration with the International Council of Nurses (ICN) began to explore options for the development of an international resource for this field of nursing. In 1998 in Melbourne, Australia formal discussions took place with consensus to proceed toward development of an international network to function independently yet under the auspices of ICN. The ICN NP/APN Network was launched in October 2000 at the 8th International Nurse Practitioner Conference in San Diego, California.

What are the key goals and objectives of NP/APN Network?

Key Goal: The key goal of the network is to be an international resource for nurses, nurse practitioners and advanced practice nurses as well as interested others (e.g. policymakers, educators, regulators, health planners) by:

  • Providing relevant and timely information about practice, role development, research, health policy, regulatory changes and other relevant events
  • Offering a forum for sharing and exchange of knowledge expertise and experience
  • Supporting nurses and countries who are in the process of introducing NP and APN roles
  • Accessing international resources that are pertinent to the field through a Human Resource Bank and internet links

What will the network do?

The network will be an evolving and continually updated forum that will:

  • Identify issues early and monitor how they develop
  • Follow and report on trends
  • Offer special expertise through creating a resource pool
  • Disseminate reports, articles and documents related to the field
  • Encourage research related to this discipline
  • Provide updates through a web site, news bulletin, and press releases
  • Organize meetings and conferences

How can I become a network member?

Go to www.icn-apnetwork.org to complete a general membership application.

There are currently no fees for general membership associated with ICN NP/APNN. It is not necessary to be a member of any professional organization but the network does encourage you to belong to your national nursing organization.

How can I access the latest news and updates related to NP/APN practice?

Visit the ICN NP/APNN web site at www.icn-apnetwork.org In addition to periodic additions and updates you will find news bulletins biannually, press releases and content on topics of importance to the field.

Email other questions to Melanie Rogers at M.Rogers@hud.ac.uk.